A six-speed transmission with eight clutch discs and very positive feedback helps bridge the power gap between the DesertX and Multistrada V4 with shorter gear ratios for first and second, as well as tall gears in sixth for highway driving. High-heeled pegs and arms allow for easy stirrup-style riding position while seated or standing. Straight handlebars and excellent ergonomics around the tank contribute to comfort and confidence during the rider’s hard work out of the saddle.
Ducati even swivels the brake and clutch levers, as well as the shift lever, forward and down on the bars, for ease of use while standing, though the excessive wrist position can start to feel a little awkward during normal road driving. The Brembo brakes themselves also create a slightly quirky feel, tuned to provide a wide range of adjustment in slippery off-road situations.
Mounting the M50’s monoblock radial calipers down on dual 320mm discs up front and a single 265mm disc rear produces plenty of stopping power, but gently feathering in a little brake barely does the trick until the bite hits hard (maybe the brakes on the press borrower The new Ducati, needed a little more time because it only showed 50 miles on the odometer). Sensitivity (or lack thereof) is only apparent when sliding through traffic or coming to a slow stop, though the DesertX’s relative lack of brute force never brings the brakes near an alarming level of indecision.
Without a doubt, the DesertX seems worthy of a full liter or larger engine, which may eventually make it into the lineup. As it is, the ADV’s surprisingly nimble bike charm with perfectly respectable handling during sporty driving shines through despite the larger 21-inch front wheel, long-travel front and rear suspension, and high center of gravity. A set of 1.8-inch Kayaba forks mounted upside down (or right side up, really) allow 230mm of forward travel with adjustable compression, rebound and preload. The rear damper also provides an impressive 220mm of travel, yet the nose or tail never comes close to an overly soft or spongy level of slack.
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